“Is this the coolest place in Manchester?”
Sloping round a wet, cold Manchester City centre is a fairly regular part of a Cooktwit day. He needs to recharge his batteries for the afternoons shift ‘downt pit’, (or office as it’s sometimes called). A quick luncheon is called for. Soup, salad or a sandwich being the norm. Tucked away round the back, next to University Challenge outfitters ‘Jack Wills’ a stark shop front homes into a view. It’s a view that wasn’t there a few weeks back (10 weeks to be a little more accurate). It’s bears a sign of clean, black script and says ‘Rapha’. In the window, sleek cycles climb the walls; a solitary cycle jacket in lime completes the display. I venture in intrigued.
An athletic young bean manned the as yet empty coffee point on the ground floor. Though a quick glance around confirmed this is a quality space. I shimmered up the stairs via the black and white contact graphics.
The space opened, revealing a smart serving counter at ten to, whilst a gleaming stack of garment rails headed out at quarter past. A panoramic view of the King Street emporiums beckoned to the left. I headed down there and hitched up to the high gloss touch down bench replete with high tech racing cycles. Bespoke tables dotted themselves around, welded frames providing each with the necessary support. The tables themselves double up as display cases, showcasing vintage cycling apparel. It’s all rather pleasing.
Having surveyed the land I decided to pitch in with a bracing lunch. The menu is divided into pre and post cycling workouts. The pre bits offering such sporting favourites as porridge, eggs and blueberries whilst the post-match action centres on deli end sandwiches. It is here that the Cooktwit to his aim. A mozzarella, roasted pepper ciabatta drenched in pesto seemed to fit the bill. It came warm (having been lightly squashed in some sort of flat iron arrangement) with a pleasing assembly of leaves, each soaked in an appropriate dressing. A strong coffee in the ‘Rapha’ branded cup and saucer accompanied.
I’m not going to bore you and say it was the best sandwich I’d ever had, but nonetheless I can confirm that the raw materials were of the highest order. The whole ensemble easily matching my standards of delivering the right quality product at the right price (£4.50) at the right time.
As I say it’s a high end deli offering that can be acquired in many places but it’s not everywhere you can then fondle a pink soft shell, or soak your hands into a soft merino, neck warmer. As a keen cyclist it is fair to say I was equally impressed with the after match window shopping. As it was almost Christmas when I ventured in The Flame was duly informed that if she was struggling to acquire a gift of sufficient standing this was the outlet she needed to subscribe.
So there you have it another albeit rather informal purveyor of fine goods with which one can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Well worth a trip. And they even do bottles of Ticketybrew beers if you fancy adding a little extra to the meal. It’s good stuff I’ll certainly be back.
Rapha Cycling Club, 5 St Ann’s Alley, Manchester, M2 7LP